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UK Manor Church Centre, Wallasey - January 2017

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History

The Manor Church Centre is a Grade II listed building in Egremont, Wallasey. It was designed by architects Briggs, Wolstenholme and Thornley (the same company who designed the local town hall) in the early 1900s, and was constructed by George Parkinson between 1907 and 1908 for £19,000. It was built to replace the Presbyterian’s first Neoclassical church on King Street because it was too small to accommodate a rapidly growing congregation. Once completed the building was known as the Egremont Presbyterian Church, and being the largest Presbyterian church at the time it had the capacity to accommodate 1,000 people. The church opened for worship in 1908, almost immediately after completion. The large church hall at the rear was added in 1910. For many years the church remained unchanged, until 1972 when the Presbyterian Church of England and the Congregational Church in England and Wales joined to form the United Reformed Church. As a result, the church became Egremont United Reformed Church, until 1994 when it united with Trinity Methodist Church and became the Manor Church Centre.

Manor Church Centre is well-known for its architecture and interesting stained glass windows. The church is constructed out of red sandstone from quarries in Runcorn, and is based on a unique mixed English Perpendicular, Arts and Crafts and Gothic Revival style. The design of the building includes a large nave with north and south passage aisles, a north transept, a short chancel and a 60ft southwest tower. The interior of the building was designed to be spacious and to offer uninterrupted views for all members of the congregation. The Baltic Pine hammerbeam roof (a decorative open timber roof truss) with corbels that are decorated with foliage help to create such an atmosphere. As the church hall was built a few years afterwards, it adheres to a different Tudor style with four bays and mullioned and transomed windows.

As mentioned above, the stained glass throughout the building is famous. Some of it dates back to the 1890s, and other pieces the early 1900s. Some of the most notable pieces include: a pane depicting the Empty Tomb by H.G. Hiller in the east window, the window in the transept depicting The Sower that was designed by W. Aikman and made by Powell’s, a window by G. Gamon depicting Faith, Hope and Charity, a window on the north side of the building by the famous stained glass artist Wilhelmina Geddes, and the west window which contains glass that was designed by Percy Bacon.

Although reports are limited, it is reported that the church closed sometime after 2011. Dwindling congregation numbers have been attributed to its closure. Another report suggests that the building is undergoing a refurbishment project, but it is unclear whether the building will reopen as a church, be reused for an alternative function or be demolished to make way for a potential housing project. There are concerns among the local community that vandals have started to cause considerable damage to the building, particularly some of the stained glass where there is evidence that stones have been thrown through.

Our Version of Events

It was getting on for late afternoon, and we were heading back to base camp for the evening after spending a few hours looking around a derelict mansion we’d passed several times while staying in Wallasey. A large church towered above us as we wandered along the footpath. The building itself was one of those that look a bit abandoned, but you’re not too sure if it really is. Nevertheless, it merited a bit of closer investigation, so we hopped the non-existent fence and tried to have a peek through a window. Unfortunately, our efforts proved to be fruitless. A strippergram could have been jiggling her tits around on the other side, but we wouldn’t have been any the wiser. It was way too dark inside. We continued wandering around the outside a bit more, though, and much to our delight ended up discovering a possible means of entry.

Several minutes later and we had successfully infiltrated the church. Of course, the stripper had been a complete figment of our imaginations, so the remaining content of this report has been given a PG rating. But, in taking our first glances around the silent navel we could see lines of pews and what appeared to be an almost immaculate looking setting. A gigantic wooden ceiling hung over us and what was left of the fading sunlight outside struggled feebly to penetrate the thick stained glass windows. The entire church looked as though it has been abandoned only yesterday. Our footsteps echoed loudly as we wandered towards the large organ and baptismal font.

It was incredibly dark inside the church, especially since most of the stained glass windows have been enclosed in metal cages to protect them from the failed ejaculation specimens of Merseyside. To rectify this problem, we were forced to wave a 1000 lumen torch around (the only torch we had available). As we did this, we hoped that neighbours and people walking past outside wouldn’t notice the erratic light display that was going on inside. If one of us had taken to the organ it’s likely people would have thought Elton John was getting frisky with the keys, or that John Lennon had risen from the grave, checking all the nooks and crannies for where he left his bastard submarine keys.

It grew darker and darker very quickly, so in the end it became a case of running around the church to grab as many snaps as possible of the good stuff. We left the tower until last because the vast majority of it isn’t anything particularly special; it looks as though much of the original spiral staircase has been replaced for metal ladders and gantries. At the top we arrived just in time to see the sun setting over the River Mersey and the lights turning on over in Liverpool. The views were surprisingly good considering we were in the middle of a residential area. After expending the last of the daylight, we made our way back down into the church. From this point on taking photographs inside the building became virtually impossible so we decided to head off. We guessed that the chances of getting caught by someone walking or driving past outside were considerably high now, especially since people would be leaving work around this time. Overall, though, despite the light problems Manor Church Centre proved to be a really good wander.


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On 1/6/2017 at 11:00 PM, Andy said:

A very nice building, and mostly still in good condition. The glass window is great.


Yeah, the glass is quite famous apparently. 

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